HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park was accused in a report released Thursday of improperly accepting free trips from the foundation that built and runs the park’s visitor’s center.
The U.S. Interior Department’s inspector general’s office report alleged that Ed Clark submitted false travel vouchers and asked the private nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation to underwrite a dinner he attended with other National Park Service employees.
The report said federal prosecutors disclosed two weeks ago that they did not intend to prosecute Clark. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Harrisburg offered no immediate comment.
Clark’s lawyer, Barak Cohen, said his client did not violate the law and called the release of the report a “gross injustice,” and that the National Park Service has not resolved the matter.
“They are completely off base in claiming that the law was violated,” Cohen said. “They were unable to prove that and it’s just flat-out wrong.”
Cohen said Clark repeatedly sought ethics guidance from the park service but was unable to get it. He said Clark received no personal benefits.
“Every last thing he did was part of his duties as park superintendent,” Cohen said.
Jeremy Barnum, chief spokesman for the National Park Service, said the agency was reviewing the findings and “will take any and all appropriate action.”
Clark is currently stationed at a park service facility in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, Cohen said. The acting superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park is Lewis Rogers.
The inspector general’s report said the investigation began with an anonymous complaint about Clark two years ago.
It found he traveled 27 times to attend foundation-organized events, including social gatherings, donor meetings and fundraising galas. Some of the nearly $24,000 in travel costs was paid by the foundation, and some was paid by a construction company that Cohen confirmed was Kinsley Construction in York. Clark told the inspector general that he traveled four times on a construction company aircraft.
Kinsley chairman Bob Kinsley is listed as the foundation board’s chairman emeritus. A telephone message left for him at the company Thursday was not immediately returned.
According to the report, Clark told investigators that his “repeated disregard of regulations concerning the acceptance of travel-related expenses was an oversight and due to his own ‘sloppiness.'”
An unnamed supervisor told investigators that he would not have approved several of Clark’s trips.
“The supervisor acknowledged that Clark’s trips that involved flying in private airplanes, staying in expensive hotels and eating expensive meals appeared to be improper because neither the supervisor nor the Ethics Office had approved them,” the report said.
There was no evidence that Clark directly solicited funds, which is prohibited, but he did twice give statements of support to the foundation and the Civil War Trust that were sent to potential donors, the report said.
Investigators said five donors who met with Clark over two years all said he did not solicit funds from them during those meetings.
This story has been corrected to say Kinsley is company chairman, not president.
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